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A Star Is Born

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A Star Is Born

Published 1937
Topics Drama

Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor) is just another starry-eyed farm kid trying to break into the movies.
Waitressing at a Hollywood party, she catches the eye of alcoholic star Norman Maine (Fredric March), is given a test, and is caught up in the Hollywood glamor machine.
She and her idol Norman marry; but his career abruptly dwindles to nothing

This was also Lana Turner's film debut as an extra.

Run time 111 min.
Producer David O. Selznick
Production Company Selznick International Pictures
Audio/Visual sound, color
Contact Information


Reviewer: Rainy Tuesday at the Movies - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 30, 2012
Subject: The Gaynor Glow
Janet Gaynor was one of the greatest Hollywood stars ever, in both silent and sound films. An adorable little slip of a girl who fairly glowed with wholesome beauty. "That is all you know on earth/and all ye need to know". A Must-See.

Incidentally, A Star is Born was based (or at least inspired by) the marriage of Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay. The latter was a huge Broadway star who just started to wash up and his young wife's career in Hollywood began to take off. The writers were at great pains to insist at the beginning of the movie that "all resemblance to any person is purely coincidental...and all of that). But everyone in Hollywood knew at the time. Be that as it may, a film worth watching.
Reviewer: Dark Moon - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 10, 2011
Subject: Reasonably accurate portrait

My father worked in the motion picture industry. And, of course, the industry and its members are always in the news. From all I've seen and heard, this movie portrays a reasonable facsimile of the industry as it actually is—in fact, it underplays some aspects. One of the things that is not underplayed is how it uses up many of the people who come to work in it, and what becomes of them once it has (please pass the tissues, there, Karen). It takes a great deal of strength—and the absence of any illusions—to flourish and to keep one's sanity in it.

The old tough-as-nails grandmother has some serious wisdom to share when she tells Janet Gaynor's character that every achievement comes at a price, and requires sacrifice. I can't agree with her speech at the end of the movie, though, about quitters. Often enough, the only real way for people to know if something is right for them is to try it out. Sometimes it's even necessary to go through the whole thing and get to the top before it is possible to know. Once an activity is known from the inside, it bears little resemblance to how it appeared to the uninitiated from the outside. And sometimes, the price of success is just too high; it is not uncommon for someone to follow through and pay the price, and then reject the result. It is this last situation that hits Janet's character, when grandma talks her into staying with it. In real life, that's one of the ways that some people wind up inside a bottle.

I've known of this original version with Janet Gaynor, and heard of the Barbara Streisand remake, but didn't know that Judy Garland also did one. The story is quite famous, and is often mentioned when film-making is being discussed. I hadn't seen any version, until now. Thanks and gratitude for this contribution to the Archive.
Reviewer: kareneliot - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 6, 2010
Subject: wonderful
5 star tear-jerker.

*reaches for kleenex*
Reviewer: keygrip - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 11, 2009
Subject: stands the test of time
This is a true classic of the thirties which stands up well to better known 1954 version.With an excellent cast and great production values the film gives what was, for its time,a daring and accurate insight into the motion picture industry
Reviewer: jahzoone - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 2, 2009
Subject: A Star Is Born
The title gives a hint to the storyline, but there's a price to pay. Fantastic film, it can be criticized for this reason or that, but the fact remains this is a timeless story and well worth watching!
Reviewer: SASKATCHEWAN - favoritefavoritefavorite - July 7, 2009
Subject: Could have been great
The film moved a little too quickly, especially at the beginning. The pathos of Esther Blodgett looking for her big break truly makes one feel helpless inside, and Janet Gaynor is masterful at this. We could have used more.

Fredric March is always worth a watch.

When you think of the big names in the golden age of hollywood: BOGART, CAGNEY, DAVIS, GABEL, BERGMAN....where is MARCH?

Surely this brilliant man must be one of the most underrated actors in film history.
Reviewer: Lisuca - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 26, 2009
Subject: VERY NICE!
This was so good its now on my ipod!! The end was surprising.....for the time.
Reviewer: jcliff - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 11, 2009
Subject: love ya judy but!!
this is the best of a star is born then all the others.I will watch it again. I give it 5 stars.
Reviewer: malary - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 6, 2009
Subject: Simply Terrific
This is one of the best films I've ever seen. Simply a classic! The two lead actors are perfect together and the script is amazing. I loved how Esther stood by her husband through it all; she is the picture of commitment. Great picture for people of all walks of life.
Reviewer: bearpuf - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 23, 2008
Subject: Best of Them All
I think Eric's review of this movie hits the target. I was barely aware of Janet Gaynor until this viewing and totally enjoyed her performance as well as Fredric March's. Supporting roles by Adolph Menjou and Andy Devine were terrific as well.
Reviewer: ericthatsme - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 13, 2008
Subject: The "Star" of them all!!
Most people who discuss "A Star is Born" often make reference to the 1954 Judy Garland version, or the 1976 Barbra Streisand version. It seems only a small group recalls this one at all. Those who do however know that by far this is the brightest star of them all. The cast is first rate with a bit of everything rolled in to create a truly first rate Hollywood picture.

Although the 1954, and 1976 versions are excellent in their own right, failing to view and experience this masterpiece would be like having cake without the icing, just leaving you feeling like the best part is missing.
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